President Elect is a turn-based, political simulation game, first released by Strategic Simulations, Inc. in 1981. It would appear to be the first commercially published computer game of its political sub-genre.
President Elect gives the player the ability to play as various real historical, potential historical, or completely fictional Presidential candidates during the Presidential campaigns from 1960 to 1984 (most versions also included the 1988 campaign). Players were given the option of playing a "Historical" or "Ahistorical" scenario for each of the given years. Under the "Historical" option, the candidates, as well as economic and foreign policy conditions, and the status of the incumbent, were fixed. During an "Ahistorical" session, all those variables could be determined by the player (for example, the player could choose a 1980 race between an incumbent Republican President Ronald Reagan, versus a Democratic Senator Edward M. Kennedy, in the midst of an unpopular war and an economic boom). Alternatively, players could select the option of creating a fictional Presidential candidate, through the selection of various political, personal, and geographic attributes (somewhat in the manner of creating an RPG player character). In addition, there was the option of selecting an "Ahistorical" set of candidates within the otherwise "Historical" conditions of the selected year. The game came preset with not only all the major candidates of the elections covered by the span of the game, but also a number of hypothetical candidates from across the time frame, such as Jerry Brown, George Romney, Gary Hart, and Howard Baker.
President Elect was first published for the Apple II in 1981, and was subsequently published for the Commodore 64 in 1984. A subsequent "1988 Edition" was released in 1987 for both those systems, as well as for the Atari ST and DOS computers. The 1988 Edition did not change gameplay at all, but simply added the historical Reagan vs. Mondale 1984 election, with a new 1988 scenario with no historical candidates. The game also added new playable candidates, such as Bill Clinton, Bruce Babbitt, Michael Dukakis, Richard Gephardt, Geraldine Ferraro, Jack Kemp, and Oliver North.